Update (March 30, 2021): Boasting an unconventional architecture designed by a Turkish architect, Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, which is one of Pakistan’s most iconic landmarks, has been ranked among the 50 most beautiful buildings in the world.
Researchers have used the ‘Golden Ratio’, which is an ancient algebraic equation used to determine the architectural balance of a structure. Some of the world’s most iconic structures have recently been analysed using this ancient Greek architecture methodology.
Other prominent places that have made it to the list include Osaka Castle in Japan, Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London, Marina Bay Sands resorts in Singapore, and Westminster Abbey in the UK.
Once considered the biggest mosque in the world, the stunning Faisal Mosque in Islamabad is a sight to behold. The magnificent tent-shaped landmark situated against the backdrop of the lush green Margalla Hills is one of the most important tourist attractions in Pakistan, drawing thousands of visitors from all parts of the world.
The postcard-worthy landscape of the mosque along with its awe-inspiring design and elegant interior finishing has made it one of the most visited monuments in the entire country. Owing to its angular main structure, tall minarets, well-manicured courtyards and pools with fountains, Faisal Mosque is the perfect blend of traditional and contemporary Islamic architecture.
Also referred to as Faisal Masjid or Shah Faisal Mosque by some, this mosque was a gift from the late King Faisal bin Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia. The mosque was named after him to honour his commitment to the construction of this breathtaking masterpiece in the federal capital. Moreover, the Faisal Mosque was designed by a Turkish architect.
If you have visited the capital city before, you have most likely seen this breathtaking landmark in person. However, if you haven’t had a chance to pay a visit to this historical mosque yet, make sure to add this to the itinerary during your next trip to Islamabad.
Here are some facts about the history, architecture and location of the beautiful Faisal Mosque in Islamabad to help you learn a little more about it.
The History of Faisal Mosque in Islamabad
The history of this iconic building dates back to 1966 when the late King Faisal made a historic visit to Pakistan and showed interest in building a mosque in the green city of Islamabad. Nearly three years later in 1969, an international competition was held to choose the design of the mosque. Architects from around 17 countries submitted 43 unique proposals for the construction of what would later become the national mosque of Pakistan. Ultimately, Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay won the competition and his unconventional yet wonderful design for the mosque was approved.
The government of Pakistan then assigned about 46 acres of land near the base of Margalla Hills National Park for the project. The construction of the mosque was assigned to the National Construction Limited of Pakistan under the supervision of Azim Khan. The total cost of the construction was over SAR 13 crore, which was paid by the government of Saudi Arabia.
However, in a tragic turn of events, the Saudi premiere was assassinated in March 1975 in Riyadh. After his death, the government of Pakistan decided to name the mosque and the road leading to the site after the late King Faisal. In October 1976, his successor King Khalid bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud laid the foundation of the mosque.
Two years later in 1978, a construction agreement was also signed between the two countries.
The construction of Faisal Mosque was finally completed in 1986. But the first prayer congregation on the premises was held on June 18, 1988. Since then, the mosque has been open to the public.
The Architecture of Faisal Mosque in Islamabad
The exceptional architecture of Faisal Mosque sets it apart from almost every other mosque in the world. The unique triangular design of the historic landmark was inspired by the Bedouin tents erected in the middle of the deserts. Though the most noteworthy feature of the mosque is the absence of a traditional dome.
Instead of the conventional design of round dome surrounded by minarets, Faisal Mosque boasts a tent-like structure with sharp angles comprising eight sides of a concrete shell. The matching minarets surrounding the main structure are each about 259 ft tall with a circumference of 10×10 meters. The entire Faisal Mosque is covered with white marble.
The area surrounding the main structure isn’t anything less than remarkable. The grounds of the Faisal Mosque comprises well-maintained lush green courtyards, porticoes and fountains. There is a circular pond at the entrance of the mosque that leads to a larger pond and the staircase for the main prayer hall.
The total area size of Faisal Mosque is around 10 kanal.
The interior of Faisal Mosque is just as spectacular.
The majestic ceiling of the main prayer hall is about 40 meters high and is adorned with a grand Turkish chandelier surrounded by smaller ones. In addition to that, the walls feature the stunning calligraphic work of renowned Pakistani artist Sadequain. There is also an outstanding sculpture of the Holy Quran placed in the main hall.
The mosque can accommodate about 3 lakh people at a time. That makes it the biggest mosque in Pakistan as of right now.
Faisal Mosque in Islamabad also has a separate prayer hall for women along with a large ablution area, museum, lecture hall, library, café and a small gift shop situated near the entrance. Quaid-e-Azam Auditorium is also located on the grounds of Faisal Mosque.
In 1988, following the death of the former President General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, a mausoleum dedicated to him was constructed adjacent to the mosque. His funeral prayers, considered the largest funeral congregation in the history of Pakistan, was also held at Faisal Mosque.
It is important to mention that the architect of Faisal Mosque, Vedat Dalokay, received the esteemed Aga Khan Award for Architecture on his extraordinary design of the mosque, which has become one of the best examples of contemporary Islamic architecture in the entire world.
Location of Faisal Mosque in Islamabad
The stunning Faisal Mosque is located at Shah Faisal Avenue in Sector E-8 of Islamabad.
One of the most interesting facts about Faisal Mosque is that it was strategically constructed on an elevated piece of land on the foothills of Margalla Hills. Therefore, it can be easily viewed from several different spots in the city, such as Daman-e-Koh – one of the most famous picnic spots in Islamabad. However, the best way to see Faisal Mosque is certainly by visiting it.
Visiting Faisal Mosque in Islamabad
There is no ticket or entrance fee for Faisal Mosque. However, since it’s a religious building, visitors must adhere to certain guidelines before entering the mosque.
Some of the most important rules for those visiting Faisal Mosque include:
- Everyone must remove their footwear before entering the mosque
- The visitors must be dressed modestly
- Women must have their heads covered
- Eating inside the main hall is strictly prohibited
- One must refrain from making any loud noises
- Photography in the main hall is not allowed
- Non-Muslim tourists and visitor are not allowed to enter the main prayer hall
Places near Faisal Mosque in Islamabad
Here are some of the prominent tourist attractions, shopping areas and hotels near Faisal Mosque.
- Margalla Greens Golf Club: 3.3 kilometer
- Jinnah Super Market: 3.3 kilometer
- The Centaurus Mall: 3.5 kilometer
- Japanese Children Park: 3.8 kilometer
- Islamabad Zoo: 3.9 kilometer
- Fatima Jinnah Park: 6.8 kilometer
- Islamabad Marriott Hotel: 7.3 kilometer
- Daman-e-Koh: 7.6 kilometer
- Pakistan Monument: 8.2 kilometer
So, will you be visiting Shah Faisal Mosque the next time you go to Islamabad?
Meanwhile, don’t forget to take a look at our guide to the largest mosques in Pakistan. In case you are interested in buying property in the capital city, our comprehensive Area Guides for Islamabad will definitely help you out.
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